Saturday, February 18, 2017

Spring Arrivals and Winter Leftovers

Rondeau Park was the first stop today on this warm, spring-like day.  It was cool to start, but by mid-day it was up to 17 C!  As a result, many "spring" birds such as waterfowl, gulls, blackbirds and shorebirds arrived.
Rondeau was rather quiet, but several Red-winged Blackbirds were already singing atop trees.

Not many birds were encountered on south point trail.

Brown Creeper

White-breasted Nuthatch

The campground was somewhat quiet except for the wintering sapsucker and Yellow-rumped Warbler.

I later headed over to Erieau and checked out the rail trail.  Some ducks were on the Bay including at least 3 American Wigeon which were obviously fresh arrivals.
Just before getting back to the car, I saw a small bird darting around and chipping.  I had thoughts of Orange-crowned Warbler for some reason, and sure enough it was!  It was just as flighty as it was last December.  Amazingly, it has survived all this time, last being seen about January 13.

As usual, it refused to let me get a good photo.

Last weekend, an Orange-crowned was seen at Rondeau Park (south point trail) by Jim Burk.  There was speculation that the Erieau bird moved over there, but that is certainly a long-shot.  Although possible, I would assume that these are two different birds.  The first February records for the Rondeau birding area!
While there, the first Killdeer of the year flew overhead.

There was virtually nothing at Erieau waterfront, so I headed west.  I stopped at Wheatley Harbour, and another Killdeer was goofing around.

Knowing that much waterfowl would be around, I headed over to Hillman Marsh shorebird cell.  I met up with Kory Renaud and we picked out lots of spring arrivals.  The lighting was horrible from the viewing hut though.

Northern Pintail

After Kory left, I decided to walk all the way around where the light was much better on the other side.  Indeed, I could get a good handle on the number and types of birds present.

There were at least 50 American Wigeon, 50 Gadwall, 4 Northern Shoveler, at least two dozen Northern Pintail, 7 Green-winged Teal, 4 Ring-necked Ducks, a Redhead plus Mallards and Blacks.

Well over 100 Ring-billed Gulls were present as well. It is a good time for Mew Gull in these parts, so we will have to keep an eye out!

While walking on the dike, I nearly stepped on a Garter Snake!  First of the year no less.

I sat on the bench on the far side for some time while two birders arrived to look at the spectacle. These turned out to be none other than Steve Pike and Jeff Skevington.

They had already seen a couple of Killdeer as well, so spring is certainly arriving!
After some good conversation, we started walking back and met up with Jeremy Bensette.
I then headed home.

This evening I went out to Stewart Wetland to watch the sun set behind Walpole Island.  It was a calm and clear.  Several Red-winged Blackbirds were on the move.